Hi y'all! Madeline from Ellis & Page here- I am so excited to share my project with you today- a DIY retaining wall block fire pit.
When we bought our new house, we bought it because of the view. The inside needs so. much. work (you can see some befores here and here), and it is hard for me to focus on the outside. But, we bought the house for the view- we need to enjoy it, right? So, my awesome husband convinced me to build a fire pit- and then did most of the work!
We were first looking into fire pit kits from home improvement stores, but they were so expensive! In our first house, we built a retaining wall with blocks from Home Depot and I really liked the look of it, so we decided to figure out a way to make our own!
HOW TO BUILD A FIRE PIT
using retaining wall blocks
Our fire pit ended up being about 4 feet (49 inches) in diameter on the outside and 3 feet (35.5 inches) in diameter on the inside- if you want something bigger or smaller, you will just need more or less blocks. Our fire pit is also 16 inches high.
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*We also used a high-heat spray paint on the interior of our fire pit. This is completely optional.
Circular Saw and Diamond Blade
Step 1: Measure and mark the fire pit area
First, figure out how big you want yours to be. Then create a perimeter using a stake in the center and a piece of string. We then marked off ours with spray paint. Remove the grass, tamp down the area (we used a mallet and a piece of wood) so it is level and fill with gravel. Tamp again, so you have a level starting surface.
Step 2: Lay retaining wall blocks
Lay your first layer of blocks. Remember, these blocks are square and you are making a circle- there will be gaps! Make sure the blocks look like a circle from the outside.
Next, dry fit the next layer. Make sure that the blocks cover up any gaps in the previous layer. You might have to remove the lip from the back of the blocks used to make the wall. Remember to make sure everything is level!
Step 3: Secure the retaining wall blocks
Then, use Quikrete to cement the blocks together (note: some people don't cement them together, but we wanted to make sure ours was very secure- this area often floods and I didn't want it taking my fire pit too!). Repeat for the third layer.
Step 4: Fill holes and finish sealing interior
Use the Quikrete to fill any holes on the inside of the fireplace and create a uniform interior edge. We then sprayed the interior with high heat spray paint to help prevent cracking. This is an optional step- we haven't used ours yet, so I don't know how much it helps!
Step 5: Install capstones
For the capstones, you will need to cut every other one to form a circle. We used a diamond blade on our circular saw and it worked great.
First, place them on top in the best circle you can. Then, place another block on top and trace the pattern needed to complete the ring. Make sure that you are paying the most attention to the outside edge (meaning it will line up when you cut it- you don't want to cut the block and it be longer than the others.). Remeasure after each block.
Step 6: Secure capstones
Finally cement the capstones in place. We also “grouted” between the capstones so there were no visible cracks. Then we added gravel to the inside of the pit.
If you look closely, our top capstones are not perfect, but you don't even notice it. And if you do, don't tell me : )
The fire pit looks so great in the yard and from the house! I can't wait to add chairs and some string lights and have a fun areas to sit, talk, relax, and roast marshmallows! This project was definitely a labor of love, but nothing about it was really hard. I would call it a medium on the DIY difficulty scale, only because you have to cut the capstones. I was definitely thankful for Dan lifting everything though!
So what do you think? Would you try it out?
Wanna see more projects in our new home? We showed you guys how we refreshed our dated tile floors for less than $15 here & how I made lots more storage space in my closet while I was living with my mom. I surely need to do that again in the new house!
More ways to make an awesome fire pit area:
Build a curved seat wall and fire pit
Add outdoor lighting on posts (plus more outdoor lighting ideas here)
build a pergola structure with swings (and a movie screen!)
or try one of these other DIY fire pits